Posted September 10, 2021

Memnoir by Joan Retallack: on Manifold Scholarship and the launch of our first digital-critical edition

“see that shadow on the wall that’s you childhood initiates the child into senses hungers proclivities expectations exhaustions anxieties terrors horrors humors the experience of experiencing all that’s pointed out and then the noisy silent rushes telescoping in and out i.e. stops and starts ruptures and surprises surprise surprise guess what’s inside”

Joan Retallack, from “Memnoir”

In September we released Joan Retallack‘s Memnoir as our inaugural eBook from the Open Poetics Series.
This critical-digital edition illuminates aspects of Retallack’s work and traces Memnoir as a living, evolving text. It includes historical references as well as external writings on the poetics of Retallack. These materials are meant to be explored intuitively by readers, scholars, students or teachers and can be accessed online or be downloaded as PDF for later use. 


Open Poetics on CUNY’s Manifold

Retallack’s Memnoir is a high-speed chase through intersections of chance and consciousness; with its symbols and cultural frames it is an excellent way to inaugurate our new hybrid-media editions from Open Poetics Series 1. 

Open Poetics is created in partnership with CUNY’s Manifold Scholarship, an open-access, collaborative, digital platform for scholarly publishing. Signing up for an account is easy, free and gives access to hundreds of project libraries such as ours. Titles in our series incorporate external materials—critical essays, alternate versions, reviews, translations, and archival images—that have been curated by a board of poets and teachers. The platform includes a group annotation feature, which facilitates dynamic line-by-line conversation, allowing readers to puzzle out the text via their own marginalia, or in discussion and collaboration within private reading groups.
Open Poetics publications are divided into Series 1 and Series 2, with the former devoted to critical editions of out-of-print titles by O Books and The Post-Apollo Press, and the latter consisting of select Litmus works that are especially suited to the multimedia possibilities of online publishing.



Launching Memnoir

The launch event for Memnoir took place virtually and was moderated by E Tracy Grinnell, founding editor of Litmus Press. It featured a tour around CUNY’s Manifold Scholarship, readings by Joan Retallack, Omar Berrada and erica kaufman and concluding with a discussion on experimental translation and the role of pedagogy in circulating poetic texts.

Joan Retallack read from Memnoir, Omar Berrada read a corresponding excerpt from Sianne Ngai’s “Ugly Feelings,” erica kaufman read from her essay “On Joan Retallack’s Memnoir: Investigating the experience of experiencing.” Retallack and Berrada concluded the readings with a joint bilingual performance of Memnoir in English and French, discussing their experimental translation practice for the text. All of these texts are openly available as part of the digital-critical edition of Memnoir.

Watch the launch event on here or on CUNY Manifold. 



You can access Joan Retallack’s Memnoir The Open Poetics Critical Edition through here. We invite you to take a look, and we’d love to hear from you about your reading experience. If you decide to incorporate the text into a syllabus, please do let us know about that as well. As we continue to publish works in this format, we’ll be channeling your feedback and ideas into how we approach the content and design of the project going forward. So please do reach out!



– Amanda Monti